Essential Sports Nutrition


Blueberry pancakes and advice on New Year training

Now is the time when the weather makes it hard to get out of bed but thankfully, we have a new year to keep us motivated with our fitness routine. Perhaps you are gearing up for an upcoming race or have your eyes set on a few personal fitness/body composition goals. Whatever the case may be, don't rush the journey.
Sure, that is a saying that is often repeated and overly used but I am a firm believer that the process shouldn't be rushed.
Considering that I work with a lot of different types of athletes and receive emails from active individuals wanting to step up their training and/or exercise routine, I wanted to offer one bit of advice for getting back (or starting) a training plan.
Start with 2 weeks of "intro". It's very easy for athletes to get excited about training again and feel the need to wait for the perfect time to start. Or, feeling guilty or lazy after a break, go all-out in the beginning part of a training plan. When it comes to training or simply sticking to an exercise routine, we can often make it really easy to fail or feel defeated by simply expecting too much out of our mind and body. Like anything else in life, when we learn to do something new, we adapt by doing something over and over again. Just like in a sport or in training, we must "train" ourselves to perform optimally. Why this becomes so confusing for people, especially goal-oriented individuals who love to exercise, is that in order to adapt to training stress, training has to be consistent.
Giving yourself an intro week or two is a great way to remove the pressure that you have to be perfect w/ every workout and it also gives you a good marker of where your fitness is at this point. You can do a HR/pace test to assess fitness or my favorite, perceived exertion to give yourself a marker of what you are able to handle right now. Also, this intro week allows you to remove the need to push hard 7 days a week and gives ample time to work on skills and drills which are fundamental in quality training. Whether you ate a bit too much over the holidays, are ready for the "Reward" food because you earned it (we will save that topic for another blog) or are feeling excitedly nervous for your upcoming racing season, consider the stress you are about to put on your body and use a few weeks ahead of you to assess any weaknesses in your training schedule which may keep you from being consistent as the months progress. The number one problem I see from athletes is being caught in the miles or time spent training and forget about taking the smartest road to success. Sadly, athletes often take the long road which include junk miles, injuries, burnout, feeling like a zombie by the end of the week and even social isolation. It never has to be this way if you are gearing up for an event or striving to change body composition and certainly you should never be feeling this way by week 3-4 of a new training routine.
So, as you enjoy some of my homemade pancakes, consider sitting down with a piece of paper (if you coach yourself) or with your coach to decide on the best racing plan for your year and the best training plan to keep you energized, motivated and excited for the next 360ish days of this new year.
The pancakes pictured below were consumed on Sunday December 30th after a chilly and windy 38-40 degree ride in Florida. I sat on Karel's wheel for around 53 miles and we had the most brutal headwind for the last 90 minutes. After a long, hot shower and a tall glass of coffee, I had one thing on my mind that would make me feel incredible....pancakes. Enjoy!

Blueberry pancakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats (uncooked)
1 tbsp. flax seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
1. In large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, flax and salt.
2. In separate bowl, mix together milk, water, honey and vanilla extract.
3. Make a well in flour mixture and pour wet to dry and mix until smooth. Add a little extra water for easy spooning for pancakes onto skillet.
4. On a non-stick skillet, medium/low heat, drizzle a little oil or use non stick spray. Pour ~ 1/4 cup batter on to tray and w/ back of spoon, smooth to make a flat pancake.
5. Cook for 1:30-2 minutes or until bottom begins to turn golden and flip. Cook other side for 1 minute.


Create your positive environment

Happy New Year!!

Who's ready for the new year and a better you? I am excited to continue my journey of life, to better myself in all areas and I can't wait to keep making memories from all types of experiences. I still expect challenges to come into my life and I feel every day I get stronger (in mind and body) at learning how to overcome obstacles and maintain a balanced lifestyle.

I am really looking forward the upcoming year in so many ways but I know that with all my goals that I have in front of me, I can not expect to reach any of them without hard work and consistency. Now, when I mention this word "hard work", there is a special appreciation that I have for hard work. I suppose hard work comes with sacrifices and discipline but the work that I put forth to reach my goals does not sabotage my enjoyment for an active and healthful life. My mission every day is to make for a better tomorrow so although sometimes I may not be feeling "it" at the moment, I know whatever I choose to do is helping me for a better tomorrow and to get me closer to my goals. I always think "big picture."

I wrote my latest Iron Girl article on a topic that I feel has been really helpful for my own personal journey of living a balanced lifestyle and more than appropriate for the start of the new year. We love to talk the talk of reaching goals but as we all know, it's hard to keep up the motivation and desire to work, work, work to reach those goals, day in and day out. When you love something, it doesn't feel like work but let's be honest, we all have our up and down days.

As athletes, we all know about fear-based training when you put off the work to make progress overtime and feel pressure to squeeze in those last minute workouts or long miles because the big race is approaching. If you are focused on body composition, it's likely that you've said "oh well" a few too many times but when you get fed up or feel frustrated or stressed, you take it out on your body and wish for a quick fix to happen yesterday.

I believe that the best tool in your handbag is to create a positive environment to move you closer to diet, health and fitness goals. This is something that needs to be done daily for every day is different. To accomplish things in life, you have to have the pieces in order to put together the puzzle. Don't just wish for the finish project because you can imagine what it will look like. Be sure to dedicate time to create your own personal positive environment whether it is at work, home or elsewhere. Believe me when I say that your life will become so much more enjoyable because you will stop the hoping and wishing and find yourself actually getting things done and enjoying the process.

Creating a Positive Home Environment

By Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N

When it comes to improving health-related habits, it’s important to create a positive environment that allows for change. We live in a society in that we are constantly being told what to do but without the right tool-set, it’s hard to put the pieces together in order to create long-lasting habits.
If you can’t run 5 miles today, how can you expect to run 10 miles at a race next weekend? Long-term habits require small daily changes. Small changes will bring you closer to a better way of living but never forget that you cannot rush the process.

In welcoming the New Year, you are likely excited, motivated and committed to work hard for your goals. Hard work is a concept that should be applied year round but it can become quite tiresome if you expect to make extreme changes in one week and hope that they last for the next 11 months.

Understanding that food should fuel your active lifestyle and exercise should help keep your body in optimal health, here are a few tips to help you create a positive home environment in order to keep you on track throughout the New Year.

-If you want to bring your lunch to work, invest in quality Tupperware to make it easier to plan for leftovers at dinner, for lunch the next day.
-If you struggle with eating a variety of fresh foods on a daily basis, keep 1 leafy green, 2 washed veggies and 2-3 washed whole fruits in the refrigerator at eye level to make it easy for daily meal prep. To avoid spoilage, pre-slice/chop 2-3 cups of fresh veggies/fruit once or twice a week for easy snacking or for a quick salad. Non-seasoned frozen or bagged fruits/veggies are acceptable choices to make it easier with these new changes.
-If you struggle to stay hydrated, prepare 3 x 16-20 ounce water bottles in your refrigerator every day, to make it easy to stay hydrated before, during and after workouts.
-If you currently eat out 4 or more times a week, try to reduce that number in half. Recognize the value of eating food prepared at home and gradually work on reducing your intake of restaurant/fast food so that eating out becomes a special occasion, not a daily habit.
-If you struggle with portion sizes, re-think your dishes. Use large bowls for plant-strong meals and smaller dishes for more calorie-dense options. Occasional treats like cereal or ice cream for “dessert” can be portioned-controlled in a small coffee cup.


-If you have a weight-related goal, let your lifestyle be your guide and not the scale. It is recommended to weigh yourself no more than 3 times per week, understanding that body weight fluctuates 3-5 lbs on any given day. Consider what you are able to do with your amazing body as you work toward your weight-related goal instead of directing all your energy on a number on a scale.
-If you are committed to working out/exercising 7 days a week, strive for three days of quality workouts at a moderate – high intensity (be sure to consult with your physician prior to starting a new or returning to an exercise program). The other days should include walking, yoga or any type of movement that will also help your body become more metabolically active.
-If you struggle with getting out of bed in the morning to exercise, lay out your clothes (and charged gadgets) the night before. Prepare the coffee, make your breakfast and lunch and lay out your work clothes as well before bed in order to enjoy a non-rushed morning routine.

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N

Marni works as a Clinical Dietitian at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC and provides one-on-one consulting in the Jacksonville, FL area. Marni is a Registered Dietitian, holding a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN). As an elite endurance athlete, she is also a Level-1 USAT Coach and a 5x Ironman finisher. Marni is a 110% play harder, Hammer Nutrition and Oakley Women brand ambassador. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Fitness Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, The Florida Times-Union Shorelines, Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes to, USAT multisport zone and Lava online.


Should you make a New Year resolution?

As a professional in the health field, I have many credentials behind my name which would make it easy for me to capitalize on the New Year holiday. With all the resolutioners (is that a word?) out there who desire a change in lifestyle habits (but really want a quick fix because 365 days is just too long to keep up with habits that are likely extreme and unrealistic), it would be easy for me to promise you quick results and instruct you on how to reach your resolution within the next few weeks. However, I will not change what I believe in to promise you something that will come quickly when I know it should not be achieved quickly. No matter what you want for 2013 and your resolutions, there is a reason behind your procrastination on not working hard on your goals in 2012 and likely, all will not change on January 1st and be maintained by Dec 31st 2013. Therefore, I will continue to support my philosophy in that life is a journey and that it is best enjoyed when the diet and exercise routine are in complete balance.

Surprisingly, I am not one for resolutions. For the past 365 days, I have been using my blog and Trimarni facebook page to inspire, motivate and educate others to live a more balanced lifestyle. I recently made a few modifications to my website specifically to my nutrition services in order to help better serve our community. I have recently updated my website - feel free to browse around and send me an email if you are interested in my services - at any point in your lifetime. Throughout the past year, I have been able to help so many athletes and fitness enthusiasts reach personal fitness and body composition goals as well as reach finish lines and personal best times. I have reflected on what worked great, what worked okay and what didn't work and I made changes. To me - that is what a New Year is all about. If we can all spend a little time being thankful for a New Year we can be equally thankful that we had the last year. Certainly you can find a few things that you are proud of and with next year being another opportunity to move you closer to your goals and dreams, it is simply another day in your life. While we don't want to think about a deadline in life, we certainly do not want to waste any days here on Earth.

I don't want to confuse, mislead or depress anyone out there so I will start this blog by saying "YES - tomorrow is a great day to start working towards a New Year. Why wait any longer?"

One year ago, I started my own business. Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC. No surprise- I blogged about it like any other important milestone/experience in my life. As you can guess, this was not an overnight dream-come-true. First, it took 3 years of obtaining my RD credential. Then it took several months of learning how to "own" my own business. Throughout that time, there was a lot of brainstorming as to my vision, short and long term plan, philosophy and focus of my business. I needed to put together the right words to describe the best services that I could offer to others. Services that would allow me to help change the lives of others and in a way that made me feel as if I was being connected with people around the world...people who shared passions and lifestyles, similar to my own or if anything, aspired to reach their own personal goals in life.

I started my business on January 1st, 2012. Talk about a resolution! In the past, I have used the first day of the New Year to reflect on ways that I could be a better person here on Earth. Never have I resolved to let one day be the day when I would start taking better care of my health or being the day when I would start working hard to reach my fitness goals. I have never once considered a "perfect" day to better my diet or exercise routine because those are two very important components of living a healthful lifestyle (certainly I don't need to be a triathlete to be healthy but it is part of my lifestyle and I choose to train for quality, thus keeping my life balanced as a triathlete). I never want one day to pass on by where I disrespect my body when it comes to exercise or the diet. As you know, I don't believe in a perfect way of living so whereas others may consider some of my actions as "bad" or "off-limit", I see it as an occasional day because of all the consistent days that come so naturally for me because of many years of reflecting and resolving.

When it comes to resolutions, resolutions often get confused with goals. Hopefully you want to achieve something by x-date or better yourself in or at something and that is fine to say that that is your New Year resolution...but then what? The main difference is that with goals, you are willing to put in the effort to achieve something and after it is achieved, it is time to move on to something else. A goal is something that requires a process, it requires time. And once it is achieved it will likely enhance your lifestyle. Whether it is a goal or a resolution, likely there is something that you don't have now in your life (or a way of living) but eventually you hope to obtain it or conquer it. When you have a goal, you are ok with not having "it" right now because you are ok with progress. With a resolution, you may find yourself rushing the process because of the pressure you are putting on yourself to start this process today (or Jan 1st).

So then comes another issue with resolutions. The positive is that there is a lot of motivation and commitment on January 1st. Likely, the holidays have left you a little "off" with your eating and exercise routine and certainly there is nothing wrong with that when there are 365 days in a year. Around this time, there is a lot of thinking going on in the brains of humans. Stop smoking, start strength training, start eating "healthy", start sleeping better, start spending more time with friends/family, etc. The thought is there but is it really what you want to be doing? Perhaps you are motivated and this time you really do want to make the changes. But why January 1st? What will it mean to you when you do keep that resolution? If you are doing something that doesn't make you happy, doesn't mean a lot to you or feeling like you are setting that resolution to make others happy, there will be little commitment and motivation in 30 days from now. 4 weeks is a long time to do something that doesn't bring you happiness, contentment and joy. If you are doing something that you are not passionate about, that is ok so long as you are open to the idea that eventually you will become passionate about it and that you hope that it will become something that you enjoy. But if you are trying the same thing and expecting the same "failed" results, there's not question as to why you keep running out of fuel by week 4 of your resolution. Sit down with yourself and search deep inside as to what is most important to you. Expand on your resolution so that January 1st is the motivation you need to get started but in years from now you will not overlook the many days in life that are also great decision making days for changing your lifestyle.

If you ask me, I am super excited for 2013. Another year, with 365 days to be consistent with healthy living and to work towards personal goals. No need to lose focus of your resolution if you are setting one and no need to feel the need to set one. Whether in your business, personal life, activity routine, sport, health or social life, know what outcome expect to receive when you reach your goal(s).

Starting tomorrow, apply yourself to everything you do in life. DO NOT rush the journey. As I say to my athletes, what's the point in a lean body if you can not do anything with it. If you are going to make changes in your life, vow to "do better" at anything that has not worked and trust yourself that your plan of action has a purpose and the actions steps are realistic and maintainable. Be sure you have a great network of social support and surround yourself with people who give you energy and will hold you accountable of your own individual goals (not convincing you to join the masses). Be driven by internal factors, not things in your life that seem like it is the "right thing" to do. If you are investing your energy in a change, consider the intrinsic factors such as enjoying the highs and lows that come with change. Avoid being so focused on the end result that you lose focus on the goal as well as accepting the challenges that come along with change.

Although the New Year can be a great launch to a new way of living or thinking, whatever you are wanting to achieve in 2013 and beyond, there is no reason to ever feel defeated if you promise to yourself that every day has opportunity to be a life-changing day.

Happy New Year!